How to build a fence

Fencing is the most popular way to mark a boundary and compared to a wall it is much cheaper and easier to erect. It’s a cost effective and an easy to install option for your outdoor space. It may seem difficult to build but it is actually quite an easy job - all you need is a helper, a few simple tools and basic DIY skills.

Fencing has many uses in the garden – keeping your pets and children secure, enclosing your garden for privacy or to just create a beautiful space in your garden, fencing is the top choice. Putting up wooden fencing for yourself is a very rewarding process and is easier than you think, with little effort you can really enhance your garden.

We’ve put together this guide to show you how to build a fence, remember that there is a vast array of fencing options on the market and be sure to know exactly which one is for you. Over on our Buy Fencing Direct website we have a huge range to choose from in various sizes and styles and if you have any questions then you can find the answers in our Advice Centre.

Tools Required:

  • A string line
  • Spade
  • Spirit level
  • Timber battens
  • Gravel boards (optional)
  • Gravel
  • Post mix cement
  • Post caps
  • Finials (Optional)
  • Screws
  • ‘U’ and ‘L’ brackets
  • Fence posts
  • Fence panels

Preparation is key

Building a fence can be quite a strenuous job so you will find it a lot easier with a helper. A second pair of eyes is great to ensure a straight fence and the additional man power will assist with the lifting and assembly.

We would recommend clearing any plants from where the fence is going. You can put smaller plants into pots while the fence is being assembled and replant once the fence is up. To give plants enough time to recover and to help the growing process, the best time to install a fence is autumn/early spring.

Don’t forget to consult your neighbours, it’s good common courtesy to let your neighbours know that you will be installing a new fence, after all half of it will be in their garden! You will also need access to both sides of the fence while assembling so it’s best to make them aware.

Fixing the fence post directly into soil

  1. Take a spade and dig a hole about 60cm deep and 30cm square.  The actual depth will depend on the height of the post you are using.  As a rule of thumb, you should have a quarter of the total post height in the ground.
  2. If the ground is really difficult to dig out, it might be worth investing in a bar and specialist post hold spade.  You can buy these at most merchants.
  3. Once the hole is finished, fill the bottom with about an inch of gravel.  This will help with drainage, and will reduce the risk of the post rotting in the future.
  4. Put the post into the hole.
  5. Gradually fill the hole with the dry post fix cement, packing it down while continuously checking the level of your post with your spirit level.
  6. Fill the hole to about an inch from the top.  This is so that when the job is finished you can cover the top of the cement with soil.
  7. Pour water over the cement.
  8. Screw a couple of batons to the post to make sure they remain securely upright, all the time checking the levels.  These can be removed when the cement has set.
  9. Once your first post is in, you are now ready to mark out the line of your fencing.

Installing the fence panels

  1. Using a string line, unwind the string and passing it in front of your post, take it to where you want your fence to end and stake it into the ground.
  2. Now you're ready to fit your next post.
  3. Using a baton, cut to the same width as your fence panel, mark where your next post needs to go and fix it using the same method as before.
  4. If you are installing a dip treated fence panel, you will need to use a pressure treated gravel board at the base of the panel to protect it against rot.
  5. Fix the gravel board by first marking and pre-drilling the posts. Then, fix one 'L' bracket at the base of each post using a drill or electric screwdriver.  When they are just about tight enough, you will need to locate the final position of the bracket by hand, using an adjustable spanner.
  6. Fix the gravel boards through the brackets with 20mm screws.
  7. Now you are ready to fix the fence panel.
  8. This time, attach two 'U' brackets to the inside of each post by marking out positions about 10-15cm from the top and bottom of the fence panel.
  9. When your brackets are fixed, carefully lift your panel into place and secure it through each bracket.
  10. The last job to do is to finish each fence post with a post cap.  This will help to protect the end grain of the wood from taking in water, but at the same time it provides a neat finish to your posts.
  11. For a final decorative flourish, why not add a ball or acorn finial to your finished fencing.

Have you seen our YouTube channel? Our video library us bursting with 'How To' guides and information about our product ranges. We have many informative guides about fencing and here is our video on how to build a fence: